It is/It Is Not What You Think (?)

I’m set to ship out to Cairo later this month. I always have trouble sleeping from the excitement, as well as the unknowing of what it will be like when I arrive. The news recently got me thinking about appearances in Cairo. In the span of a few days it was announced that a group of men where arrested in a hamaam (bathhouse) on charges of “lewdness”. Homosexuality is not illegal in Egypt, although it is not tolerated socially. Oddly, men in Egypt (and in much of the Middle East) are downright cuddly by Western standards. It’s not strange in the least to see two men walking down the street holding hands or arm-in-arm (but don’t you dare try that with your date in certain areas-whoa Nelly!) The hand-holding does not signify homosexuality, it shows the the men are dear friends. It’s hard for foreigners to get their heads around as we are quite frankly the opposite in our choice of PDA partners. Although it is this duality that makes the story of the bathhouse, this follows a story of two men being sentenced to three years for allegedly appearing in a video where they are getting married–as well as the Cairo Queen Boat raid 10 years ago–all the more heartbreaking. Egypt has historically been quite open in relation to the Middle East, and although one cannot expect a gay marriage act to pass in this lifetime, the usual had usually been ‘out of sight/out of mind’. It remains to be seen what the fates of the men arrested will be.

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